Three new members of the Governor Louie B. Nunn Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame were inducted Wednesday during a ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort.
Members of the ninth class, chosen by a statewide selection committee, were Opal T. Sibert, Ron Skillern and Joe Westerfield.
Westerfield, who taught social studies for 33 years in Daviess County schools, said he was thrilled and humbled by the Hall of Fame recognition.
“Just to be considered is an honor,” he said. “To be selected as one of the winners is mind boggling.”
Westerfield, who retired in 2002, said he was lucky to have a job that he enjoyed. “I knew from a long time ago that this is what I wanted to do,” he said. “I had a great career. I loved it.”
Joe Westerfield, a native of Hartford and a resident of Owensboro, spent 33 years as an educator in Daviess County schools before retiring in 2002. Westerfield has been, and continues to be, extremely active in political forums and activism over the years, serving on various related committees and registering over 5,000 students to vote. Westerfield earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky (1969), his master’s degree from Western Kentucky University (1971), and his Administration Rank 1 from Western Kentucky University (1973).
Westerfield began his teaching career in 1969 as a seventh and eighth grade social studies teacher at Daviess County Junior High, where he remained until 1973. From 1973-2002, he taught 11th grade U.S. history and 12th grade American government at Apollo High School, with the exception of 1984-1985, when he served as Director of Instructional Support with the Kentucky Department of Education. At Apollo, Westerfield served as the social studies department chairman, was a member of its site-based council and sponsored many different clubs.
Westerfield also served four years as the Congressional District Contact Team Person for the National Education Association in the 2nd District, and was appointed to serve on the Governor’s Advisory Committee for Federal Funding for Education. Among his many awards and honors, Westerfield was chosen in 2004 as the winner of the Liberty Bell Award, which is given each year by local bar associations in conjunction with Law Day to honor outstanding citizens within the local community.
The 2017 class was inducted by Dr. Stephen Pruitt, Kentucky Commissioner of Education, and WKU President Gary A. Ransdell.
“On behalf of everyone in Kentucky, thank you for what you have done and continue to do in our classrooms,” Dr. Ransdell said. “What a special moment. I’m proud to be part of this ceremony.”
Sen. David Givens and Rep. John Carney offered congratulations on behalf of the Kentucky Senate and House and thanked the inductees for the impact they’ve had on thousands of students and their families.
“Because of the impact you had on them, they came out a different person,” Givens said.
“Thank you for your service to your communities,” Carney said, “and most of all to the children of the Commonwealth.”
The Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame was created in 2000 through a gift by late Gov. Nunn, who hoped to recognize the vital role that primary and secondary teachers in Kentucky play in the education of young people and the positive impact education has on the state’s economy. WKU was selected as the home of the Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame because of its more than 100-year history in teacher education.
Nominations for the 2018 Class of the Governor Louie B. Nunn Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame are being accepted. The deadline is July 15. For information, visit wku.edu/kythf/nominations.php